Vanilla Law - Brand New Flavour

Vanilla Law - Brand New Flavour

Start-ups need lawyers. That's the message the Harvard Business Review has been spreading, warning of the dire consequences and eventual costs of not hiring one. But maintaining a lawyer on your staff may be too costly at the moment. Then what?

A Start-ups Guide to Laws in the Philippines

Singapore-based boutique law firm, MG/Chambers, understands this. Serving primarily small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it has come up with an interactive software that allows clients to draft their own legal documents - VanillaLaw.
 
Until you can get your own legal counsel on board, this programme can help you manage a good part of simple agreements on your own. 
 
What's VanillaLaw?

VanillaLaw is a document assembly system based on the "Baukasten" or modular system. Using a skeletal agreement, it allows users to shape the document to their specific needs by adding or removing clauses.
 
How does it work?
 
Step 1: Sign up
 
It begins with an appointment made by calling (65) 6222 2535. A consultation will be arranged to settle the kinds of agreements you need. Once you have an account, you can begin.
 
The annual subscription fee is S$250. There is also a one-time implementation fee that varies depending on the complexity of the agreement. Considering the cost of an in-house lawyer or the fact engaging one for agreements can cost anything from S$1,800 and six hours for a simple one to S$14,000 and up to 30 hours for something more complicated, this is a small fraction and certainly more hassle-free.
 
Step 2: Let the software guide you

Once in, the programme will guide you with prompts and options. To begin, you can choose the type of agreement you want to create.
 
The programme sets the bar low, assuming zero knowledge of the law. So, it offers a panel on the left with all the clauses you need to consider under the type of agreement you have chosen. On the right are the details of each clause with a User Guide each to teach you how to fill in the document correctly. You can pick the clauses you want to include.
 
You can save, track and manage the document on the site, previewing and editing the document any time you want. Once satisfied, it allows you to download the document.
 
This dynamic clause selector is different from the usual templates with fixed clauses. It runs on complex algorithms that allow much more flexibility.
 
Step 3: E-mail a lawyer
 
It doesn't mean you can go solo. VanillaLaw allows you to craft your own first draft, reducing the ding-donging that often accompanies this stage of the work which adds to the legal costs. Once the draft is done, you need to send it to MG/Chambers' lawyers to be reviewed and amended in VanillaLaw.
 
VanillaLaw is not the only other online legal drafting services available. There are others: Dragon Law and notable LawCanvas which is targeted at start-ups and promises to draft easy agreements in under a minute. What VanillaLaw does bring to the table which the others don’t is a full suite of legal professionals to complete the document.
 
With the rising trend of such self-help services, start-ups can certainly look forward to saving time and money. And that’s always good news.

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